While there have been no jumps in recent months, SpaceX Starbase is still abuzz with activity with preparations underway for the upcoming Booster 4 and Ship 20 orbital test flight and the launch of future cadence acceleration with the following vehicles.
Most recent efforts have focused on the orbital launch site, in particular the tank farm and the “Mechazilla” additions to the launch tower. However, spacecraft 20 is keeping the suborbital platform busy with an opening test attack that began with Monday night’s test test.
For orbital flight tests, SpaceX is currently moving toward a November readiness target, which will still be subject to clearance documents for approval.
A draft PEA recently released by the Federal Aviation Administration, requesting public comment ahead of Booster 4 and Ship 20, outlined the requirements that needed to be approved for the historic first-in-orbit of the world’s most powerful rocket.
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Regardless of the FAA approval path, SpaceX must reach multiple flight vehicles and launch infrastructure milestones.
For the Vessel 20, many Thermal Protection System (TPS) boards have been replaced amid ongoing preparations for trial tests.
For these testing purposes, which began Monday night, canister 20 was first filled with nitrogen gas, now known as an aerobic test and previously known as an environmental test, before being charged with ultra-liquid nitrogen. tests.
While it is unclear whether all the test test objectives were met, an important lesson was noted when some of the TPS tiles were detonated from the vehicle during the first test phase. Elon Musk noticed that the collecting tank vent was causing a small gap between the tiles.
The ship lost 20 chips during testing.
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Other purposes of test tests include the use of push pistons, which are hydraulic rods, to simulate loads on a push plate. Once this device is removed, the tests for the next test stage will be scored, allowing this ship 20 to prepare for the tough fire tests.
Loaded with liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid methane (CH4), the 20 should initially launch its three raptors to sea level, followed by an unspecified test with all three RVacs. However, only one RVac has been released, and all of these tests are conducted at McGregor as opposed to SpaceX’s Starbase.
As Barco 20 moves through its test targets on the semi-orbital platform, Thruster 4, alongside the orbital launch site (OLS), will follow a similar path with the test test targets prior to this, which it will probably be a series of static fire tests. .
Interestingly, the Booster 4 testing will be backed by the use of the OLS Tank Farm, which has been building its line of commodity tanks for the past few months.
With all but one of the GSE (Ground Support Equipment) tanks installed on site, test tests have already been conducted on some of the tanks, with a series of ventilation tests observed on Monday.
All that’s left is to roll the GSE-8 and then move the remaining cooling shells that the tanks are clad in for insulation.
Smaller tanks were also seen rolling on Highway 4 on Saturday, highlighting why SpaceX is testing Barco 20 first, as they conduct the test before the OLS tank park is ready.
Booster 4 spent a few weeks preparing for the assembly of the OLS site while work continued on the launch tower. This work involved the installation of the Quick Disconnect (QD) accessory, which will be used to provide propellant fuel to the Starship when docked to the top of the Super Heavy.
This arm will also provide the power and communication lines for the boat and provide some stability to the compact pile.
As part of the “Mechazilla” system, The Launch Tower will stack Starship on the thruster using 2 large arms. It is planned to install this system in the next few days.
To allow these large devices to mount on the turret, SpaceX chose to remove the Booster 4 from the bracket, allowing additional clearance and eliminating the risk of colliding with the Booster 4 during complex lifts.
Once the Mechazilla is complete, the Giant Arms can be tested by installing the Barco 20 on Booster 4 before conducting a Wet Clothes Test (WDR).
However, Mechazilla’s somewhat more formidable role of “catching” vehicles returning to the launch site after a flight should not be tested until at least the flight of Booster 5 and Boat 21.
These tracking compounds are already being processed at the production site, with Booster 5 currently stacked within High Bay.
The production rate was mainly concentrated within the production tents with numerous barrel and nose sections, some of which are already subject to the TPS application.
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However, once SpaceX completes the first test flights, many more ships and thrusters will be stacked, requiring a large additional bay capacity.
SpaceX is already building an even larger and more spacious facility in present-day North Hai Bei to address this. Foundation work has continued in recent weeks and the walls of the new bay are expected to lift off the ground next month.
Photos and videos provided by Marie (Integrated Tweet (and Nick Answini) Integrated Tweet). Additional information and help article provided by NSF (L2 level) Discord.
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